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The Mystery of Scandinavia's Car-Burning Spree

Hundreds of cars have been torched in recent months, but why?
Cars burn during riots in Stockholm in 2013.
Cars burn during riots in Stockholm in 2013.telefonkiosk

What’s behind the spate of vehicle arsons that have swept Scandinavia’s cities this year? Over the summer, cars have been set on fire across the region in a spree that shows no sign of abating just yet.

Between June and mid-August, 134 vehicles were set ablaze in Stockholm, 43 in Sweden’s second city of Gothenburg, and 108 in its third city, Malmö. Meanwhile, across the water in Copenhagen, there were 30 arson attacks on vehicles in August alone, until the arrest of a 21-year-old suspect led police to hope the streak would end. It didn’t, and this week Copenhagen’s car burnings began again, as they also did in neighboring areas of Sweden. Internationally at least, this isn’t what people expect from a region that is usually a byword for prosperity and social order.